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Weather or not.

Wednesday, 23 September, 2009

This Texas Summer has proved especially loathsome. Here is the breakdown:

The first 100-degree day, using the official NOAA numbers for Austin, Texas, was especially late this year. June 13. Typically we have something of a heat wave in April or so and just happen to hit 100 for no more than two days.

Aside from the occasional partly-cloudy (read: sunny, if you are not in Texas) day, the daytime highs did not drop significantly below 100 until about three weeks ago. Weeks hovering around 105 were the norm.

The low temps hovered around 75 most of that time; the high-low temperature for the year was on July 29 at 81 degrees. This is a good sign. It means the heat isn’t building up as typically happens. I have suspected people are driving less even if that isn’t making headlines, and the low-temperature record supports that hypothesis. That is, less particulates in the lower atmosphere causes less heat retention. We don’t really have any industry around here to pollute. It’s all cars and the occasional barbecue.

Last night the overnight-low temperature was 62. The sky was overcast all day. If we were somewhere else it would have been thunderstorms, but the clouds were burning off from above. By the time the sun would have come out, dusk fell. Folks wore sweaters in an arctic 81 degrees. The tea and prepared-soup sections of the grocery were hit especially hard.

I may be typing within the night which officially drops below 60 for the first time since May 4. This is a statistical anomaly, but down here you take what you can get. We allegedly shall find the magic moment under 55 degrees somewhat early. I shall be deprived of that night with a high in the upper nineties after a week of hundreds and a magical, mystical night of 54 degrees in which literally every object permanently outdoors releases its heat in visible, tactile waves.

You get on your bicycle and ride, as you do in the summer, gently with lower gears and more slowly. Curiously, the heat does not build up. Your corporeal manifestation has adjusted to a reality in which heat must never be retained in the interest of survival. Your skin begins to chill.  The heart pumps. The blood flows through vessels unaccustomed to significant pressure. The heat rises to the surface and miraculously flows into the air. Perspiration works as advertised. You are not alone. In a town where they roll up the sidewalks at 2 AM, you are one among dozens, perhaps hundreds throughout the town. Between three and five in the morning a brotherhood emerges, if only for a night.  Serottas and Waterfords. Giants, Jamises and Treks. Chicago Schwinns and Wal-Mart Schwinns. Kents and Huffys. At least one Maruishi. You may peek down any block and see several more blinking taillights. Some of your new friends hoot and holler. Very few are actually going anywhere. This fraternity recognizes no age, faith, ethnicity, social or financial status. The town is ours … and a few sanitation engineers and delivery drivers.

Once back to the house, you take a cool shower anyway. The body is thus chilled and may be in a state of hypothermia. If your living situation does not forbid it, you remain naked with as many windows open as possible. You are authentically cold. It may as well be a new sensation.

Within two hours the sun will be up. Before six hours pass the air-conditioning will come on because it is 85 in the house and 90-or-so in the world. The street becomes an enemy again. If you go anywhere further than the mailbox you do so within your assigned cage.

Key:

  • 55F = 13C
  • 62F = 17C
  • 75F = 24C
  • 81F = 27C
  • 90F = 32C
  • 100F = 38C
  • 105F = 41C
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